The railroad came through Martin County and traversed the land that would eventually become Granada in 1878. At first there was only a drop off for the US Mail when Handy (Granada) was founded in 1888. They would simply throw the mail off the train and pick up the mail with a hook with the train still moving. By 1890, there was an area called the depot grounds and the railroad built the stockyards that year a little west of this area. The depot grounds were nothing more than a platform to load and unload the train and the ground was the storage area. Everything was unloaded in the hot summer sun, even the perishables. The creamery would also bring the cream and milk to this area for transport. I’m told the depot grounds were only a little less fragrant than the stockyards.
Railroad officials were going to pass through Handy in 1891 and the local citizens caught wind of this. They piled up machinery and other items to draw attention to the officials. And for good measure they even put a sign over the tracks stating “We want a Depot”. This indeed did catch their attention so the officials stopped and inquired what the commotion was about. After some discussion, the officials promised to build a depot in the spring of 1892. The citizens got a little more than they bargained for in November of 1891. The railroad decided to rename the town of Handy to Granada. The Martin County Sentinel stated in their paper; “We understand that Handy people object to the change of the name of their town to Granada. By the way, what right had the lordly railroad magnates in Milwaukee to make this change? Their action is an insult to the people of our young sister town”.
There apparently was another Handy Minnesota that was located in Rock or Nobles County. The railroad changed the name so the mail would not get confused between these two towns. That Handy also does not exist anymore. This is the most plausible reason for the name change.
The year of 1892 came and went with no depot. The railroad again promised a depot in 1893 but that year also flew by. It was not until 1896 that work was started on the new depot in May of that year. It seemed that Handy was not supposed to have a depot as it was almost lost a few months later in November when it was struck by lightening. The fire was quickly put out and the depot was here to stay.
The Ku Klux Klan grabbed a hold of Martin County fairly tightly in the 1920’s. To the general public they came across as a reputable society of the times. It should be noted that the KKK wasn’t quite the organization as we know it today. They held rallys through out the county and one in Fairmont reportedly drew 15,000 people. They came to Granada in June of 1924 and had one of their outdoor meetings on the depot property. The bonfire was spectacular and lit up the surrounding area. In Granada’s history, there was even a cross burned on someone’s front yard. However; this cross burning was for an entirely different reason and wasn’t associated with the KKK.
In the depot’s heyday there were four passenger trains in and out of Granada. Passenger trains became fewer but tickets were still sold up until the 1950’s. Sometime after 1955 the passenger trains ceased but freight trains were still stopping. In March 1959 a delegation headed by Mayor John Miller went to St. Paul to protest the elimination of the depot. Their efforts failed and shortly afterwards, the depot was closed and was abandoned. Luckily several years later the Butterfield Thresherman’s Association needed a depot for their famous Threshing Bee. They found our depot and had it moved to Voss Park near Butterfield Minnesota in 1977.
Comments, additions, or corrections are most welcome; please send to the Granada Historical Museum, PO Box 115, Granada, MN 56039.